First of all, yes. I am a gosh darn adult, and I was having waffles and ice cream for breakfast BECAUSE I CAN. Second of all, “perfect for sharing”?! Um, nope.
As Ontario begins its next phase of reopening post-pandemic, it has been my goal to hit as many local restaurants as possible. Join me on my eclectic culinary journey in Uxbridge!
Dinner for Two Three at the Cidery
We started by celebrating our second wedding anniversary (and the first one we could enjoy out in public!) by checking out Slabtown Cider Co. on the Sixth Concession. My partner is a vegetarian who eats seafood-y things once in a blue moon, so it’s always a bit of an adventure to find area restaurants with meat-free menu items that venture beyond the standard veggie burger or vaguely “Asian” stir-fry. That’s why we’ve been so excited for the lockdown to end so that we could finally taste the menu we’ve been drooling over online for ages.
Once we ordered our flight of four ciders to share, our server giggled as we pulled our usual shenanigans of ordering far more food than we needed. This time though, where we’d usually just pack up the leftovers and bring them home, everything was so delicious that we thoroughly cleaned our plates! (Life hack: When you know you’re going to have leftovers, travel with your own reusable containers to cut down on takeout container waste! It’s also a great conversation starter with other patrons.)
The beauty of a perfect pizza is in the details, and that’s why I love a good Margherita pizza: a rustic crust that is both fluffy and crispy; a simple sauce that somehow manages to both steal the spotlight and take a step back to highlight the other flavours; and, a single basil leaf so that each slice has that one bite of beautiful green flavour. Slabtown did not disappoint, and I’ve never been so glad that I ordered what is essentially an entree to share as an appetizer.
I decided to stick with the Italian theme and ordered the penne a la vodka. Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that there is a soft spot in my heart for Frank’s Pasta a la Vodka from back in the days that Frankie’s Gluten-Free had their fantastic little restaurant in town, so Slabtown had some big shoes to fill (full disclosure: I do not actually know Frank’s shoe size). With its crispy pancetta and spicy, creamy tomato vodka sauce, I will say that Slabtown’s version certainly stands out as a delicious, authentic dish worth trying if you’re a pasta lover!
When it came to my partner’s main course, he practically had his shrimp tacos gone before I’d even taken a fork to my pasta! I suppose that was a sign that the tacos were a hit.
Other winners we’ve heard great things about include the Smash burger and the calamari—Slabtown really does offer something for everyone, and they’re definitely worth the drive to the Sixth Concession!
A Figgin’ Good Meal
Did I mention that my partner is a (seafood-loving) vegetarian? Yes, I do know that the technical term for this is pescetarianism, but he eats it so rarely that it’s more like pesce-RARE-ianism. The meals we prepare at home are always either vegetarian or vegan, and we seldom find restaurants with vegan offerings that can rival our own kitchen prowess. Well, that all changed with the opening of the brand new Fig Kitchen & Market, located on Toronto Street South, just a short walk from us through Centennial Park.
We honestly didn’t know what to expect walking in, and while we were a little disappointed that the patio was full, we also couldn’t stop remarking on how good it felt to sit inside. Simple white walls with SO MANY PLANTS, white tabletops on black pedestals, surrounded by black chairs. A classy bistro feel in a small-town vegan restaurant—a sentence I never thought I’d type, but am glad I just did.
Once again, we ordered far more food than we needed, and our friendly, knowledgeable servers seemed entertained as they delivered each dish to “the other table two” since there was also a table two outside on the patio.
We started with the buffalo wings and the crispy fish tacos as our starters, and as someone who loves her boneless buffalo chicken bites and deep-fried fish, I have to say that I was shocked at how closely these vegan items mimicked the real thing. The meaty texture of the “boneless wings” was flavourful and juicy, and everything about the fish tacos was just perfection: the freshly fried “fish,” the lettuce and mango salsa, the kick of cilantro, the fresh, crispy tortilla shells—just yum.
That said, I’m someone who isn’t always too keen on the fact that most vegan food is typically fake meat, so I try my best to focus on the basics. That’s why I ordered the lemon pesto veggie pasta as my main. A good pesto is hard to find and a chef who doesn’t skimp on it is an even rarer beast. Fig did not disappoint, and I would have been in love even if the plate hadn’t included any vegetables!
On the other hand, my partner loves his fake meat—though it probably stems from his 20+ years as a vegetarian where his only option most of those years (if any) was the trusty old veggie burger. This time, he changed things up a bit and went for the smoky beet burger served with za’atar-dusted fries. His sure-fire way to not have to share with me is to add either mayo or mustard (gross!), so he got out of sharing his delicious beet burger, but I can say that the fries were fantastic!
The patio is open-air and sunny, and seems like the perfect place for some afternoon tacos, people watching and beverages (and their house sangria might just be that beverage). I can’t wait to become one of those regular customers they know by name.
A Brunch to Remember
Brunch and lunch are my favourite times to visit Navarra’s Eatery at the corner of Main and Brock Streets. With a newly-added side patio on bustling Brock and occasional live music inside, the restaurant feels alive and there’s never a dull moment.
Our trio arrived on a Saturday at 12:13 p.m., and I admit that I teared up a little because we’d missed breakfast by 13 minutes, and all I wanted was a waffle. I was even more bummed out when I learned that Navarra’s would be serving nothing but breakfast on Sundays as of the very next day. I was somehow both too late and too early for breakfast. So I sulked into my coffee as my dining partners swooned over the savoury sandwiches on the menu, excitedly ordering the Navarra’s Philly and the Avocado Pesto sandwich. Both were well-loved and all but inhaled. As per his request, the kitchen was kind enough to replace the green peppers on my friend’s Philly sandwich with red ones.
But wait! There, on the dessert menu, was a beacon of hope: The Heavenly Waffle. From the menu:
“Our scrumptious buttermilk waffle fried up and topped with two scoops of locally made vanilla ice cream, and fresh strawberries and blueberries. Garnished with our signature berry coulis. Perfect for sharing!”
First of all, yes. I am a gosh darn adult, and I was having waffles and ice cream for breakfast BECAUSE I CAN. Second of all, “perfect for sharing”?! Um, nope. This incredible, soft-yet-crispy, berry-covered waffle was all mine. And, did I mention that the ice cream was the richest French vanilla ever? There was nothing I didn’t love (and nothing left on my plate when I was done).
An extra special superhero shout-out goes to Jacquie (Jackie?), our server who literally responded to a server-seeking Facebook post that morning, and magically managed to learn the entire menu and how to operate the finicky POS system while brandishing a super smile and delivering unmatched friendly snark. Thank you for putting up with us. I know you remember our table and the sauce…
My culinary adventures are just beginning, so please stay tuned for more as I galavant around the area, dining in Uxbridge and eating everything I can get my hands on!
NOTE: At the time of publishing, Durham Region and the Province of Ontario are in Step 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen; the Province’s three-step plan to safely and gradually lift public health measures, based on ongoing progress of provincewide vaccination rates and improvements of key public health and health care indicators. Residents are encouraged to follow health guidance when safely exploring their local communities, wash hands frequently, wear a mask and physically distance from others.